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satfix 06-16-2009 11:45 AM

submitted by: Novia

Six years ago, my name was selected by lottery to gain entry into a famous marathon, yet despite my drive, determination and excitement; I never made it to the start line. A month prior to the marathon, I ran a 20-mile long run and upon completion, mentally and physically collapsed. Since that day, I’ve approached my life as a runner with much trepidation, afraid to commit to the hard races, equally afraid to push myself to find out what lies beyond that cramp, beyond the sore ankles, the bum knees, the humid weather, the stitch in my side, the exercise induced asthma, beyond my mind telling me that I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.

A couple months ago, my running coach whose accomplishments include: 25-plus years running/multisport experience World Duathlon Age Group Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medalist; National Triathlon and Duathlon Age Group Champion, Silver and Bronze
3-time Ironman: Hawaii and New Zealand; 18-time Team USA Triathlon and that’s only naming a few, was diagnosed with ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. When I learned of the diagnosis, to say I was stunned would do my feelings no justice. My coach, a woman in her prime, doing everything that she’s “supposed” to do to be healthy and fit way into old age, a woman who has invested of herself athletically and emotionally into so many lives, now must regroup, reassess, realign where her priorities lie. And despite the prognosis, her reassessment places her where she was prior to the onset; running, competing and coaching until she can do so no longer.

Faced with the potential loss of my running mentor, I too must reassess. Watching her bullheaded determination to tackle the disease, to ‘fight against the dying of the light’ has constrained me to address my own commitment to the part of my life that encompasses running, to determine how dedicated I really am to the goals I set and too often fall way short of.

In this venture, I’ve begun to unpack the feelings of failure I’d so neatly tucked away as I sat on a curb and wept following a 20-mile run, early one morning in Northern Virginia six very long years ago. I rummage through the ‘baggage’ and tentatively pull out the fatigue that accompanied every long run, the pre-dawn runs to beat the heat, the dogged regiment toward tracking every piece of food that went into my mouth, the long runs done inside on the TM when the weather was too cold, the ugly toenails, the cross-training to cut down on the stress to my knees, one after another, I unpack the memories of what I, as a committed runner, used to look like.

As I’ve participated in this emotional undertaking, I’ve also eased back into the rhythm of a committed training regimen, setting my goals on PRing in one of two half marathons I’ll run this fall.

I’ve fought internal battles with the fear of failure, fear of not hitting my goals and the desire to not even try to return to what once defined me; a committed runner. I’ve also become quite aware that I am capable of manufacturing excuses why I can’t run, won’t run, or didn’t run on any given day that would make even the most jaded furrow their brow in sorrowful compassion for me. But I workout anyway, for those excuses are but pathetic evasion techniques when compared to my coach, a woman who has been given her ‘walking papers’ yet has chosen to run on making no excuses, offering no apologies, just running and competing until she can run no more.

In the time I’ve reassessed, I’ve had this quote engraved on my psyche, “There's a difference between interest and commitment. When you're interested in doing something, you do it only when it's convenient. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses; only results.”

No more excuses, no more fear, only results.

cajohnson5 07-14-2009 07:37 PM

I enjoyed this article very much. It is posted on my fridge. cj

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